XMAS meal in Kono

From David Sandi via WhatsApp

"Hello everyone. 402 children benefited from your generosity. They ate heartily, danced heartily and went home with gift bags. Merry Christmas all and God bless."

Thanks to your donations we were able to give £1000 towards a meal for school children in Koidu, Kono. David and his team organised a day of eating and celebrating and the pictures show how much the kids enjoyed it. The pictures are a bit low on sharpness, sorry. But you can still see the joy in the kids’ faces. Thank you for your support! We have also supported a Xmas meal for some more children in Freetown and Kono – pics coming when they’re available.

Update from David Sandi at Ahkom

Sierra Leone 

As we draw towards the close of 2020 Sierra Leone is looking up in its fight against covid-19. The country was recently designated by the UN as one of only four in Africa considered low risk for covid-19 infection. Various africa centric government and health agencies are visiting to study the country’s strategy. Nonetheless baseline convid-19 requirements of handwashing, social distancing, face masks remain in place.

AHKOM School

West African Senior Secondary Schools Examinations- WASSCE

Like last year, the country’s wassce results this year were very bad. Due in large part to continued stricter invigilation and marking. Only around 4.5% of candidates country wide received university requirement ie 5 credits including English and maths. No candidate in kono received the requirement though significant numbers received 5 credits and more with only with passes in either English or math or fail in both subjects. Ahkom did relatively well, far better than over 70% of schools nationwide, but no where near last year. Additional factors were disruptions caused by corona and constraints imposed by transition to government assisted status which banned fees, yet left us still without  a single teacher on government payroll voucher. How do they expect us to pay our teachers, carry out rehabilitation work etc? Our finances are tight but, as always, God willsee us through. One commentator remarked Ahkom must’ve been living by magic! New intake of teachers on government pay roll voucher, we hear, will happen only in February 2021.

RightToRead (RTR)

Progress in this sector is encouraging. The planned expansion to six schools is ongoing. Teachers of Junior secondary English in these new schools had this to say during their recent RTR induction training at Ahkom: ” [ We see RTR as] the best thing for rapid improvement in English language in schools”

Scholarships

Thanks to your continued assistance our scholarship pupils continue to thrive. Five years ago Rita (seen above with her daughter) was on the verge of despair when her sole helper (an expat charity worker) relocated to his country in the wake of the ebola outbreak. She had 3 wassce credits and passes in other subjects. Impressed by her determination the expat had promised to pay for her resit which is successful,  could gain her entry to university. Unfortunately this never happened. 

Rita came to our attention 2 years ago and you, our friends,  sponsored her child. I involved Rita herself in the computer department to learn computing then sit to the National Technical Certificate NCTVA exams. This certificate is equivalent to the academic HTC –  higher teachers certificate. Although I can waive her ahkom tuition fees; I cannot waive the fees of the national awarding body – NCTVA, coming to around £500 for the three year  NTC course. Which is why we have not yet been able to register her for the NCTVA program.

What’s most important for us at Ahkom, however is that,  like many other sponsored students and their significant others, we’ve got Rita and her daughter – Francess, smiling again.

Xmas school Feeding 

It’s a yearly tradition to provide a meal for the children each Christmas. But this Christmas is unlike others. We hope God will make it possible to continue the tradition. 

AHKOM TEC VOC

The tec voc administrator at Ahkom has been appointed by the national technical vocational education and training body, TVET, as the district coordinator for all tec vocs in the Kono district. This, in recognition of the cardinal role Ahkom has played developing tec voc training in the Kono district.

SCHOOL FARM

If my estimate for the roof work was a wassce subject taken solely by myself and marked by Richard Bayfield, I’d not only have come with a big “F”, but been horse whipped out of Sierra Leone by Norm and Diana. 

I totally left out the cost of gables, beams, lintels, pillars. And the iron rods/cement/sand etc used for same. I even left out the cost of the required 200 boards for the 6 class rooms because all I had on my mind was zinc. I’m sure I’d have got it right if our builder hadn’t gone to his village in response to an emergency call. On his return I proudly told him the estimate I’d provided to you. His expression? He may well have seen a ghost. 

It transpires we require 19 bundles of zinc for the 6 classes, costing around £1100. I’ve already  paid for 10 bundles.The carpenter estimated 200  2″ x 7″ full length boards coming to around £750. I’ve secured 100 for now.

Happy to say that work is ongoing-  we’ve even started on the remaining 3 classrooms. I know all will be well.

On a final note: Merry Christmas all and a happy New Year: 

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits……………..who heals all your diseases….” 

Update from David Sandi

When I left for the uk on 5th September 2020 covid 19 cases in Sierra Leone had considerably decreased. In truth with 74 deaths and 2100 or so infections, many recovered, Sierra leone had not felt the impact of the pandemic as in Europe, Asia and the Americas. 

Despite this the government had taken a very proactive stance in fighting the pandemic from day one: learning institutions,  places of worship, clubs etc were closed. Commercial  vehicles had to reduce passenger numbers; contact tracing was introduced, quarantine and isolation were implemented. As best as it could, government tried to implement assistance for the vulnerable and for affected businesses. However people still went to market and could access social services albeit within the remits of covid 19 regulations. 

Great effort was made over mainstream and social media to educate the masses on the significance of facial masks, hand washing, social distancing , nutrition etc. When fear was at its peak country 10pm to 6am curfew as introduced,  later revised to 10pm to 5am. Currently,  the curfew has been lifted for 4 weeks.

Pupils at Ahkom schools and tec voc stayed at home during the closure. The ministry of Education put into place radio and TV learning programmes. Down the line national and international examinations classes only  were permitted to return to school inoder to sit to their respective exams.

The right to read language program in schools was also put on hold but thanks to the hard work of Richard and Norm, a private small grant was received which enabled extension of the program to six additional schools.

During this same period a just giving appeal was devised by LSL to raise foods for the school farm project. The target is 5,000 and 915 has already been raised. An additional contribution of 1,200 was donated toward roofing of the initial 6 class structure. Unfortunately, lacking the construction know how of  Richard Bayfield,  I forgot, in my estimate, to account for the cost of gables, and frontal pillars that will link with the entire roof structure.  But all will be well.

Schools reopened on the 5th October. Christmas is round the corner. We have a tradition of doing something for the children at Christmas and Easter. It is our hope we can do likewise this year.

On my return to Sierra Leone on the 23rd October you’d never believe there was a worldwide pandemic.  Although masks were still mandatory for entry into most institutions there was little sign of them on the streets. Indeed, questions are rife among the laity as to whether covid 19 ever  existed.

Today the quarantine homes are closed, the isolation units remain isolated. Schools and places of worship are open as are places of entertainment. However covid 19 core requirements stay in place.

1. PROGRESS ON 6 CLASSROOMS

Gifts for SL

Hi Yatta, hope you and yours are safe and well. I have recently taken some more freight up to London to send out to Freetown. One large box, one small box. It includes some school books, clothes etc including stuff left behind by our students when they left because of Covid e.g. an electric hot plate, electric slow cooker. It should arrive in SL later this month, or in early October. I have included some bags specifically for Blacker, and will send you photos of these later. With all best wishes, Stay blessed, Ian

C3M Ministry Update

[From Yatta via WhatsApp]

MINISTRY UPDATE

God Almighty sees and know what every one of us are going through in life and will work it out for our good. The pandemic in the world will surely comes to an end in Jesus Name. Let us all continue to trust him smile through the storms and challenges of life. I know it is not easy but he is still in control.
Our Theme for this year is ….EXPECT THE BEST ISA.43:18 – 19

Praises….. Covid 19 came and gradually going none of my family members and church members has been affected. Even though I lost some close friends.

Churches were close down for over 6 months but thank God they are open again Even though with restriction and conditions.

I was really happy and grateful to God for the money I received from you to help and serve our peopl and communities by helping with food stuff and helping with covid protection gears. It went a loooonnngg way

The kono churches are gradually settling down after the death of pastor Marcarthy. In raising up strong and committed leaders.

God has open new doors for sports life with Bible Society and Scripture Union to start partnering with is to do ministry.

We are grateful to God for the open doors he has given us to start a new church at Mambo in the pennuselar area. A school hall has already been secure. We shall give you more update as it progresses

I was sick but thank God I am up again. Wrong time to get malaria it could be mistaken for covid

PRAYERS………..

Sierra Leone is standing on a time boom…..Too much political tension. A lot of killing is taking place…..at here was a prison break and over 100 inmates died…. for peace. Sierra Leone has gone through a lot already

A friend came from the state with a Toyota 4 Runner he is selling to us for $3500. We have been able to raise $1500. As I need to do frequent trips now to kono. I will also not want you to go on public transport when you come visit again. Pray that the good Lord provides the remaining $2000.

Our president is sick and presently out of the country for medical. For speedy recovery

We are grateful to God for prayersand support. What are wonderful family we have. May the good Lord bless you all.

For Covid 19 to stop. Most of our programs are on hold…..more with the schools. We need to start again.

Pray for Kono that the leadership will work together for the growth and stability of the ministry.

For the church planting in Mambo.for the payment of the school hall and we also need musical Equipments.. for the growth of the church

STAY BLESSED
Yours Faithfully
Yatta Samura

Pastor James MacCarthy (23rd Sept 1957 – 11th June 2020)

We were saddened to hear of the death of Pastor MacCarthy on 11th June. Richard wrote these words which were read at his funeral. Pastor MacCarthy leaves behind Sarah his wife and his children Emmanuel James 32, Gabriel Tamba 27, Nicanor 26 and Diana Kumba 11.

2010 in Kono

Those of us who met Pastor James Maccarthy have fond memories. He was a “gentle and outstanding Christian”. He was a humble man who exerted wide influence through his servant leadership. His faith was there for all to see. He helped pioneer the construction of the “St Andrews” junior school at Maima village in the aftermath of the brutal Civil war that took place 20 years ago.

I remember meeting James in November 2004 at the opening of the St Andrews school in Maima, Kono district. He told me that he was delighted to be back in Kono having been forced out of his home during the Civil War. Kono was the setting of the film “Blood Diamond”, which highlighted the war over conflict diamonds and the army of “drugged child soldiers”. The film accurately depicted the brutality and horror of the war.

James led a group of evacuees as they walked through jungle paths between Kono and Freetown. When he recalled the story, he was almost diffident about the risks of ambush by the rebel army as well as the natural hazards of the jungle. The zig-zag nature of the retreat meant they probably walked 2 or 3 times the straight-line distance of 200km between Kono and Freetown. In truth the family bore the scars of their 40 days in the wilderness as they lost one child along the way and they were not the only family to lose loved ones.

Despite the family loss Pastor James recalled how he thanked God for guiding them through the dangers. James’ faith gave hope to all on that eventful journey.  When food ran out and illness began to hit many in their party, it was James who encouraged everyone to keep going. It was an epic escape story of biblical proportions yet recounted with the modesty and understatement that was the essence of the man. 

He will be sorely missed by many in the UK and in Sierra Leone alike.

2004 outside Maima School as building work draws to a close

Nunc Dimittis

1    Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace:

according to thy word;

2    For mine eyes have seen:

thy salvation;

3    Which thou hast prepared:

before the face of all people;

4    To be a light to lighten the Gentiles:

and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

Luke 2: 29-32

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen

Richard Bayfield 15th June 2020

UPDATE FROM SIERRA LEONE AND COVID 19

[From Pastor Yatta via WhatsApp]

Greetings from SIERRA LEONE……

We cannot thank you enough for the great assistance you gave to help fight the Coronavirus COVID 19 . Since we recorded the first case a month ago the number of confirmed cases keep going higher and higher. Up to date we have recorded about 400 confirmed cases, 18 death and the contact tracing is growing rapidly. Government can’t do this alone so our contribution as civil society are really appreciated. There was no washing hand bucket in our community I have put around 20. Put people to monitor them.

You really gave us an opportunity to serve our people by making the necessary provision for them. With coronavirus protective kits and food stuff.

The Country is locked down………
1. There is State of Emergency for one year that mix with politics
2.There is also Curfew Order 9 p m – 6 a m. Everyday.
3. We are also on a district lockdown. Restricted movement
4. We are Also observing Social Distance

So what we did for the distribution……..
We gave money to our Pastors and Team Mate to buy the necessary Equipment and food stuff to serve their community. They bought Bucket, soap , Towels, Masks and food stuff to distribute in their community. We have shared over 1000 mask in our community and force them to put it on…. to avoid being effected.

In this distribution I realized that the people are hungry… Government don’t have money to pay salaries so people are lockdown without food. I am in trouble now when we gave food to the people they still keep coming to me to ask for more.

We gave a Family of 5 a bag of rice and some money when I heard of their situation, for a whole week they went without food they have to go to neighbour to beg the man was ashamed and start crying. They bless us, I have sent the blessing to you the provider.

Pastor Marcarthy is grateful, he decided to go to a village in kono where the message of COVID 19 has not reach yet. He gave the message on how to keep safe. He provided the Equipment and food stuff for them…. Some of our Pastors and Team Mate don’t have good phones to take good pictures.

Sierra Leone is not safe too many trouble going on at the moment. Political tension is rising. Too many political prisoners in custody. There was riot in Lunser and Tombo. Two weeks ago there was prison break. People are dissatisfied with the government. We are praying against Rebellion because it will be bloody. We are sitting on a time bomb. We value your prayers.

Let me again thank you for the money you sent . It has really been a blessing to the people of Sierra Leone by helping the to keep safe from COVID 19 and by putting food on the table of the lest privilege. May the good Lord bless you all.

Prayers…..
1. We are not going to church now please pray for our members.
2.pray for SIERRA LEONE. The tension is too much. Let the the government and the opposition see eye to eye.
3. For our Pastors for provision for their families
4.We have the civil societies trying to mediate for wisdom
5. Children are out of school wisdom how to work with them. Parent keep calling us.
6. Pray for good health. Everyday is afraid to get sick because they will mix it up coronavirus.
7. Pray for my friend herbert he is help as a political prisoner .. We live together in the same house. For God’s grace and favour.

Stay Blessed
Yatta Samura

NEWS FROM PASTOR YATTA APRIL 2020

Greetings from Sierra Leone,

A lot has happened in Sierra Leone and in the World in just 3 months.
In January I said a big thank you, on behalf of the children, for providing Christmas meals and gifts. I wrote that you were putting smiles in the face of the children. Many of them were coming from Muslim homes and are struggling to survive. This Christmas feeding program is a big blessing to them. They look forward to it every year.
In March I wrote that our world is going through challenging times right now. Challenges makes life interesting but overcoming them is what makes lives more meaningful. We in Sierra Leone are grateful at the moment with no Coronavirus cases yet. We are praying Psalm 91 for you all, our friends, brothers, and partners. We met yesterday to pray for the outbreak in the World especially, Oxford. May the good Lord continue to protect you guys and the Oxford church family.

Now in April Pastor Yatta writes that everybody is in fear because the Ebola crises is still first in our minds. We have had our first cases of Coronavirus and so we are now in a lockdown. However, more people will die of hunger than the virus. I value and thank you very much for prayers and concern. This small virus has brought everybody to their knees strong or weak nations alike. we are in a state of emergency and under a curfew order. Every day we are reading and having a quiet time to think and pray.

In Freetown we live closely together which makes it difficult to stop the virus spreading. We are working now to buy buckets to encourage hand washing and some sanitiser to help stop the spread of the virus, so we can come out of it quickly. Please help us to buy these items. Thank you very much.
Stay bless and please read Psalm 91. Let it be your prayer.

Pastor Yatta Samura

XMAS meal for children

We sent some money to Pastor Yatta to provide an XMAS meal for the children he works with in Freetown.

[From Yatta via WhatsApp]

FEEDING THE CHILDREN: I say on behalf of the children I say a big thank you for providing the resources for the feeding . I want you to know that you are putting smiles in the face of the children. We change the method this year we took them to the beach which they like and enjoyed so much. They had the opportunity to play, swim and eat….
Many of them are coming from a Muslim home and a struggling home to survive. This feeding program is a big blessing to them. Which they look forward to every year. See photos… We went to the beach at 9am and return at 6pm, they ate three [meals] that day. They really enjoyed it . Thank you Thank you Thank you….